In the largest government U-turn ever announced the defence secretary Philip Hammond said today that he was cancelling an order placed in 1940 for 200 Spitfire fighter planes.
Dismissing objections from the manufacturer that not only were the fighters delivered over seventy years ago, but subsequently destroyed by enemy action the Minister said that he had to consider the best deal for the British tax payer.
"When the facts change, the responsible thing to do is to examine the decision made and be willing to change, however inconvenient that may be," said Mr Hammond. "And the facts have changed significantly in this case. At the time the order was placed this country was at war with Nazi Germany and the planes were needed. However, having defeated the threat of fascism in Europe we no longer need a fighter capable of taking on Messerschmitts over the skies of London. The fact that all 200 were shot down simply shows that they weren't fit for purpose."
And Mr Hammond has revealed that this may be just the beginning. "I have been looking back through the contracts signed by previous governments and you won't believe what they agreed to buy. I will need to speak with the Admiralty but I feel that the risk of a Spanish invasion may be over and so will be looking to cancel quite a few naval contracts dating back to the 16th century."